Genre

Young Adult / General Fiction

Audience

Highschool & Up

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2016

Themes

Guardian angels, Power of prayer, Sin, Conversion, Spirituality, Finding God, Forgiveness, Mysticism, Redemption

 

Reviewed by

S. Leigh Hall

1st place winner of the 2017 Catholic Press Association Teen and YA Book award

Bad boy Jarret West is a difficult character to like. He is complex, and what I would call a psychologist’s dream in that he takes risks, acts out, craves attention, and is extremely cruel to his younger brother Roland. He manipulates others, is always thinking only of himself and that to which he feels entitled. These attitudes and situations make him vulnerable to the whispered suggestions of the demon Deth-kye, whose purpose is to damn Jarret’s soul to Hell.

The other side of Jarret is wounded and tormented with the heartbreak of losing his mother. He also feels abandoned and betrayed by his twin brother, Keefe, who has experienced a mystical reversion to the Catholic faith and will no longer allow himself to be controlled by Jarret.

Theresa Linden’s books in the West Brothers series relate well to the culture of today’s teens but also capture the supernatural world surrounding them and all of us. That gift is even more apparent in the third book, where angels gain strength through the prayers and faithful behaviors of those they protect. Demons also gather strength through opposing actions. Ultimately, the questions are: who will win the battle for Jarret’s soul? Will it be the demons surrounding him or his guardian angel sent by God to protect him?

The boys’ father, Ignatius West returns to his childhood home in Arizona to visit old friends and to appraise the value of the antiques on the ranch. At first, only younger brother Roland is expected to accompany him. At the last minute, so does Jarret – anything to get away from his twin, though he also doesn’t care much for Roland whom he believes is his father’s favorite son.

While the West family in Arizona reacquaint themselves with relatives and friends, temptations continue to entice Jarret. He smokes, drinks, and begins to experiment with drugs. He regularly bullies Roland in cruel and destructive ways.

Meanwhile, in their hometown, the other remarkable characters in Linden’s series form a prayer group at the request of Caitlyn. Keefe, the West brother who stays behind, joins the prayer group and prays for Jarret. He learns of a group of Franciscan Friars staying at a neighborhood Bed and Breakfast and becomes so intrigued by them that he climbs a tree during one of their meetings to hear what they are saying. The tree limb breaks, and he falls into their gathering. Now he wonders if he is being called to join them.

I immediately thought of the story of Zacchaeus in the Gospels, who climbed the tree to see Jesus. I also related the jealousy of Jarret toward Roland with the Genesis story of Cain and Abel. Then there is the symbolism of good and evil as recognized in the twins.

The climax of the book occurs when Jarret places Roland in a life or death situation. As Roland lies at the bottom of a ravine with a broken leg, Jarret spits out all of the evil tricks he played on his brother from the very beginning of his life. It is a weird reverse confession as Jarret contemplates finally killing his brother.

A genuine battle takes place around them as angels and demons clash for Jarret’s soul until Roland looks at his brother and says, “I forgive you.”

Linden’s books get better and better as her characters and literary themes become more real and complex. She doesn’t miss a beat in continuing a saga that makes sense and builds from story to story. The characters remain faithful to themselves even as they grow older. If you haven’t read the earlier books, it won’t hurt your understanding of Battle for His Soul, but the characters are a great group of young people easily relatable to current times and teens, and the earlier books make good reading material.

Her audience is teenagers, but even as an adult, I find myself completely engaged in the series. Though she writes with a Catholic Christian perspective, Linden’s books are universally exciting and thought-provoking.

Subscribe

Subscribe to Catholic Reads to get access to Catholic Literature from 50% off to FREE

A Very Jurassic Christmas by Corinna Turner

Christmas with Jurassic dinosaurs is often wild!

Broken and Blessed: An Invitation to My Generation By Fr. Josh Johnson

Fr. Josh addresses some of the common misconceptions people have about God and what getting to actually know him actually means.

God’s Sparrows By Kathleen Vincenz

Rose didn’t expect to babysit six children, but God had other plans.

Finding Grace by Laura Pearl

Amidst the Free-love Women’s-lib culture of the 70’s how can one young girl find her path to sainthood?

Revelation by Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor takes us into the mental experience of one of those people Jesus condemned.

Unlikely Witnesses by Leslea Wahl

When four boys glimpse a crime in their Colorado town they end up in an interrogation cell of the FBI.

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang

This two part graphic novel tells its story from 2 sides China’s bloody civil war: A Boxer Rebel & a “traitor” Christian-Convert.

Big in Heaven by Fr. Stephen Siniari

In this inner-city Orthodox parish, there are no easy answers—only the transformative power of God’s love.

Best of 2020

Yes some good things DID happen this year- Catholic creators have not let turmoil stop their mission.

Champion of Valdeor by Sandralena Hanley

Fed up with modern 1st person, present tense narratives bursting with ‘hip’ characters? Look no further!

A Life Such As Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer

A chance encounter with an amnesiac soldier leads Brigid to discover the realities of the Civil War.

August & September New Book Releases

Step into Fall with a Good Book

Miracle at the Mission by Joseph Lewis

Visions, miracles, and a plot to assassinate the President of the United States – not the expected summer trip for two high school boys.

Absence by Kaye Park Hinckley

Absence will chill you with the stark reminder that human beings are not just bodies, but souls whose spiritual influence cannot be suppressed, even when the bodies have gone missing.

Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman

An intriguing story that will enchant with a sweet romance and take you on a thrill ride through the Gothic version of modern-day New York City.

The Silence of Bones by June Hur

A young slave girl in ancient Korea investigates a murder & meets real life Korean Catholic saints

Desperate Forest: The Forest Tales Series, Book 1 By Cece Louise

This RomCom fantasy adventure explores a princess discovering the realities of life outside of her kingdom and what true love is really made of.

If Wishes Were Dragons By Karina Fabian

What happens when LARPing becomes a lot more real than a group of D&D players can handle?

Saint Michael: Above the 38th Parallel by Shanti Guy

The true story of St. Michael, the original punch-communism-in-the-face superhero

The Wish Thief by C.D. Verhoff

Glory steals an unusual gem to save her family but winds up threatening an entire world.